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NTTP meeting notes: November 17-18, 2010

Minutes of National Trails Training Partnership meeting:
at National Trails Symposium, Chattanooga, Tennessee


November 17, 2010 - 4 to 6 p.m.


Introductions and NTTP History

Stuart Macdonald gave an brief history of NTTP and goals for improving the availability of training with the NTTP partners.

Steve Elkinton discussed the whys of NTTP and where we have been, beginning with a 1999 meeting with Deb Salt of BLM. She did a survey and a needs assessment. Quite eye-opening in the breadth of work and technical skills. American Trails provided the leadership and staff to develop the website clearinghouse. Most funds have come from FHWA with some other contributions. Recently NTTP has evolved into a committee of American Trails: NTTP is an official activity of AT. So federal agencies can't vote on initiatives, but members of AT can. New MOU which Jamie is finishing. The Interagency "Trails 101" class started with BLM and curriculum/instruction support from the federal agencies. The challenge for NTTP is how we can continue skill building. Two purposes from 1999 are totally relevant: make sure that partners and federal agencies are always working together, and second, pass on our experience to the next generation so they don't have to reinvent everything. The goal is to be sure these are important parts of NTTP efforts. We all know how complicated trails are. We've struggled with how to train adequately on all the different skill areas.

Training Opportunities, Concerns, and Ideas

Interagency Trails 101 Course

Jamie read a letter from a USFS employee who attended Trails 101 course in 2010. Thoroughly impressed with content and experience of instructors, and the design of the course. Useful concepts and methods.

Nathan Caldwell (USFWS) - Future and home of Interagency (Trails 101) course. Course got shifted from BLM, which did such a good job with it for several years. Course is very well thought of, and there is always a waiting list when it is held, but cost is the significant concern. Expect to evolve and continue the course. May need to charge appropriately, get support from local hosts, etc.

Federal Agencies

Robert Perrin: BLM working on projects in New Mexico. Lot of demand down there, and all different activities. Also hope to get Professional Trailbuilders Association involved in some of the BLM field units. They have broad plan done but lack time and skills to actually get trails built. Don't know if BLM will be able to afford the centralized training center when budgets are continuing to be cut. Staff time consumed by regulations, implementation, minimizing liability-- rather than skills like trails.

Jamie Schwartz (USFS) - A lot of ARRA money this year for trail projects. Worked with Tread Lightly! - Developing PSAs for "Respectful access is open access" campaign involving shooting sports. New campaign for ethics on trails. Working with Leave No Trace on responsible use for equestrian users.

Leon Lavigne - USFS is starting to offer training upon request to universities, community groups, and other groups on TRACS assessment. Surveying national forests in many areas. Training people to do employees, instructors, and contractors like PTBA members. Hope to make training available for venues like the Symposium. Tied in with economic recovery.

Steve Elkinton - 2018 is 40th anniversary of National Trails Symtem. Developing goals, objectives, and actions to get ready for that. Grow capacity of nonprofit partners in National Scenic and Historic Trails (NSHT). Four initiatives related to NSHTs.
- Course to help partners grow capacity, as well as trail maintenance, etc.
- Many jurisdictions with complexities of management; orientation online to explore
- New efforts online that would focus on NSHT skill needs
- Willing Seller acquisition training to be developed for next NSHT conference.

Christopher Douwes - FHWA is funding various programs with publications, etc. But big livability program may mean loss of stand-alone Recreational Trails Program. Scenic Byways, CMAQ, Enhancements, etc. all would disappear into total funding reorganization. Undoubtedly Congress will extend federal transportation funding until Nov 1, 2011. A lot depends on whether local trails people will bring the importance of trail programs to the attention of Members of Congress.

Tim Beaty - Conservation USA training initiative. Teach skills in planning, trails, safety, etc to people who will be leading conservation and stewardship projects. Learn all the issues with public lands, stakeholders, etc. Not just a training course but certification. Use groups like Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado as models for others. Has handbooks and instructor manuals. Groups such as Boy Scouts have started their own conservation school.

Tom Chamberland (USACE) - Has been promoting trails and trail skills to others in the agency. New accessibility guidelines are an opportunity to get the attention of managers on trails. Discussion on accessiblility is a start. One voluntary district trail trainer asking people in diferent corps districts what their needs are and can they build some trail training from a grass roots level. Take need and push up the chain.

Businesses and Trailbuilders

Woody Keen - Trail Dynamics has provided trails training for organizations in Dayton, Philadelphia, Canada, Bend (OR), Georgia, and Great Smokies NP. Participants include mountain bike groups, USFS, NPS, and BLM staff. Writing a management plan. Education is the real point. It's a growing part of the business. Can help develop training programs for agencies as well as organizations. Need training on how to write a good trail contract and manage the work, inspect, and recognize what is acceptable work.

Peter Jensen - Does training on technical skills. Did western New England symposium with workshops on several topics. Some RTP funds from the state are supporting training as well as private funds. Training volunteers in chainsaw skills. A lot of land trusts are looking at getting training because insurance concerns are driving them to get safety training. Will assess work done by youth corps and other groups, want to see us get back to CCC-era standard of trail construction. Let's look at the insurance and health industries. Health Reform Act includes funding of all kinds-- let's get them to set up a new RTP within the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Scott Linnenburger - Private contractors need to work. Training doesn't always fit into the realm of what agencies put out to contract. How can we provide those who need the help of professionals with qualified people? For instance big projects going out to bid only identified skills of engineers, landscapes, etc., but no provision for including trail builders.

Kim Frederick - Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative goal several years ago was creating standardized curriculum approved by all the agencies in region. Interagency curriculum group to look at what's available, what works. Instructors module associated with that. Difficulty with funding to do what they felt was the potential. Affiliated with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. Crew leader training throughout Colorado. Kim has also been working in Lebanon with a long distance trail group where economic development is the issue. He was also able to connect with funding for job skills workshops that take place on state parks funded by state Dept. of Labor, while he developed the curriculum and taught courses. Includes natural resouce work and trails as well as construction and building renovation skills. Workforce Investment Act is another big source of funds. Another current training example is Park Ranger Technology program at Red Rocks Community College in Denver area. Trail skills have not been available in any higher education curriculum in Colorado or most other states. Hybrid contracting still an important concept.

Organizations and States

Nikki Montembeault, National Center on Accessibility - Did a two-day training on accessibility including trails. Hands-on evaluation for accessibility, and come up with retrofit concepts as well as sustainability for trails. Incorporate trail-related issues in all outdoor accessibility training. April 2011 will be a course. Looking to provide more webinar opportunities. Costs of attending is a problem. Trails surface study has been in the works for several years, information gathering, looking at different types of natural aggregates, soil stabilizers, etc. Training related to the proposed Accessibility Guidelines on outdoor developed areas is a key issue. Proposed guidelines are fairly clear on requirements, but need info on options like surfacing. Even though written for ABA and federal facilities, will all come down to states and others. Need for more training, especially how you implement these guidelines across the country.

Jack Terrell - NOHVCC - Doing training across the country and cost has gotten beyond the budgets of the agencies that traditionally support them. Looking at huge demand for the training but not much budget, and people can't travel. So NOHVCC developed a webinar with same material 400-500 people have taken; evenly divided between agency and volunteers. Not site-specific training but detailed guidance on real recreation issues. Feel there is a need to educate land managers on the recreation desires of the public. Route designation process, did three dozen workshops, wasn't getting to the field staff. Both educate the stakeholders on the processes as well as help agency staff. Two hours in length and four different modules. Put all on a dvd so you can go to a specific chapter or topic. Over 1,000 have gone to agency staff. On the professional level training there are courses on OHV recreation management available at Marshall University, as remote courses or at the college in WV. Students may take up to 12 semester hours for a minor in OHV Recreation Management.

Kit Kellar, APBP - All about livability and making connections between parks, trails, transit, communities, transportation systems.

Walt Bready, GA Trails Specialist - Trail school and crew leader training, instructor at Gainesville State College. For some years everything done out of the college, but recently has been doing workshops on other sites with local volunteers. Tailored four day course to three days to meet their needs. Hiking groups as well as mtn bike and equestrian group. USFS partner. Even 10-23 peole can work

Mary Va Buren, Tread LIghtly! - Training more instructors (Masters) who can do training on the local level. Looking for more people who want to be actively involved. Outdoor Ethics conference at Land Between the Lakes. Would like to see the same message reinforced around the country. Managers need to know what's available.

Wrap up

Steve: Let's start with the issues:
- some are observations on the state of training, like digital vs. face to face training
- others are action items that we can get to and prioritize
Also noted that NTTP group is essentially acting as a committee of American Trails. We can break into work groups on separate issues as needed.


November 18, 2010 - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Introductions and NTTP History

Developing new training to meet current needs

The goal is to maintain a vibtant network of people and organizations to support training. But the challenge is to use the NTTP as an organization to accomplish more.

Steve presented "Working List of Issues and Actions."

Two years ago there was the idea of a more sophisticated eNewsletter on training from American Trails.

Evolution of training delivery. Course started face to face, then a webinar, then a dvd that could be handed out.

Accessibility training - is there funding from Access Board or others

Steve: conversation with Don Sharlow on organizing a local network of trail people who can then draw on national training resources to help grow their skills. Identify specific educational needs. Maybe NTTP could do more to facilitate this kind of networking and .

Jamie - Conservation USA is another potential for making resources, including training more readily available.

Corporations with volunteer mandates. Mobilize more people, need training. E.g. VOC doing contract training for companies as well as for youth corps groups.

Christopher - NSHT meeting and training efforts? Steve - willing seller training could be online module. Capacity building will be done by partners with some NPS funding. Stuart's piec on making skills part of the existing NTTP website.

Initiatives and potential funding for training

Kim - lets talk about funding, more, and how to more effectively use the resources we have.

Steve - Federal Interagency Council on Trails already in place: six agencies, FHWA, NPS, BLM, USFS, FWS, USACE. Signed 10 year MOU, meets every other month, invite guests as well as nonprofits. It's an information exchange, a "trails university." No budget, no power, but a charter to advise DOI and USDA on actions that could help the national trails system. Issue an annual report on accomplishments, such as training.

Tim - once you have the federal MOU it's much easier to open the door to potential funding.

Steve - built some funding into NPS budget for training, but have to cut back. In theory, five agencies could put money into training to replace what Christopher is doing from RTP.

Who could we talk to from Health and Human Services? FIWG on Public Health and Recreation, cochaired by President's Council on Physical Fitness. Also has a ten year MOU. Lets Move Outside came along. Same issue, no funding. There are all these initiatives going on, people we can talk to, trails are mentioned in all of them. Grant proposal would be the next step.

Every state now has to have a Safe Routes and Physical Activity coordinator. Money goes out to various local school and health groups.

Kim - Dept. of Labor funding for skills training is another area with potential. Workforce Investment Act authorizes funds for job skills training. does anyone have thoughts or ideas on that as possible source of funding?

Ashley - There is some DOL money for regional or local youth corps rather than national efforts. Specifically to give young people skills. When NPS ran youth centers it was all funded by DOL funds, as much as $30 million. They are looking for very clear outputs on numbers of youth trained, number of jobs created. Not high probability.

Nathan - FWS has been working with DOL and Job Corps to get more young people hired. Most Job Corps on public lands are administered by USFS. Others are managed by local governments. Tim believes the trend is to increase investment in these areas.

Kim approached the local workforce development center with his idea-- how can we make this work? Took a state park near a large enough gateway community with unemployed people, all ages. Kim worked on curriculum and worksite supervision. DOL employed interns. State Parks provided nails and tools and dirt. Can we replicate elsewhere?

Stuart - role for NTTP? Use our national umbrella as evidence of support and nationwide cooperation on training. Document the successes as best practices. Network, inspire other catalytic people. Statewide or local - have NTTP do case studies like Kim's program.

Scott - We don't understand who is in these working groups, who is going to provide funding for these trails and outdoor stewardship activities. Who is doing it, and what should we ask for? Contractors and organizations can do these kinds of programs if we knew better how to proceed.

Kim - what is the mechanism for how to access this money? If we were to find some additional funding.

Tom - Hybrid contracting, if connection with DOL could be made. Also PTBA. Wouldn't it be great if could hook up with workforce centers and actually provide new jobs. Put groups together to assist with funding. If jobs and education are fundable, here is an opportunity to get work done on public lands.

Steve - at risk youth on Pacific Northwest Trail have been employed in counties the trail goes through. Money is getting harder to get, even though they have the experience and the program. Conceptually this is a great model by turning a trail program into a youth program.

Brainstorming on how to do this at state level. Wisconsin State Parks taps retired people with skills, also has workforce development (every state does).

Tim asked for clarification on cooperative agreements. Federal Interagency Team for Volunteers - will they spend money on Conservation USA? could there be seed money to prioritize and select projects to implement, not just run NTTP, instead of having to create new master agreement that allows agencies to transfer money. Just as USFWS provides funds through working agreements on specific tasks related to training an deliverables.

Kim - could we follow up to more clearly define that, work with Stuart and American Trails/NTTP on how to explore this opportunity? Believes there is money out there. Stuart could help develop the cookbook with Kim, look for opportunities in other states. Like Kim's work in AZ, etc.

Scott - those training programs could actually be coordinated by AT, like accessibility training. Or are we just looking for some funding to replace FHWA funds and keep Stuart working on promoting training and running the website.

Rob Perrin - BLM - Lot of youth intern folks who could be brought in to help research and develop these ideas and build capacity.

Jonathan - Identify funding as a starting point for involving youth. See what sources are available, develop modules, approach organizations and ask for money. Look at courses that are offered and identify funding sources.

Stuart handed out copies of "Training Opportunities for States" discussion paper.

Christopher noted there are people like Scott, Woody, Kim, Peter Jensen who have the services, and local people can pay out of their own pocket.

Scott: Yes, people are doing that in large quantities. Helping professional skills in agencies and in bringing resources to manage volunteers. But volunteers are having to pay out their own pocket just to be able to work for free on public lands.
SCA has similar experience.

Scott we should help people with high level training, but in same way with collaborator and volunteer training. People don't know how to collaborate well to support efficient projects. They need skills as well as management abilities. Better skills develops better future working relationships with local groups and resources. BLM seems to be really lacking in these areas.

Jamie - we have to start finding the best projects, showing them off, and finding ways to encourage more of them. Second thing is skills and job development pathways, as well as certification. How do you build a structure for trails training like what exists for fire. We looked at where the private organizations can step up. No need to invent the bike trail curriculum that IMBA already provides.

Kim offered to develop a working group on these issues. Bill at BLM can help. Stuart has worked with Kim before on the DOL issue. Organize as possible model for other areas and states, and as a project that could be funded. What do you want that money for? what are we going to get out of it? For instance, how do we fund the Trails 101 course. Business plan - e.g. HHS funding, agencies, identify what's out there?

Go to big benefits of trails, like with kids, health, and employment. How do you get the idea of trails and specific experience - fire model is built on an emergency, but trails aren't the same. However accessibility guidelines will provide a really good opportunity to respond to a legal emergency.

PTBA - how do we be sure member contractors are qualified?

SCA - goal is to elevate the credibility of youth and programs. Economy now, a lot of people looking to volunteer to get their foot in the door.

Tim - supports something like a red card system (Fire skills certification), a resource competency level. From a training perspective you're developing a better core competency.

Kim - We need partnership enhancements, increasing use and support of all kinds of trails. Marketing piece or "Regional Trail Training Strategy" on creating volunteer supported programs. How to organize a trail inspection and maintenance program.
Arizona model - five year budget for trail training in the region. INvestment of $80,000. In addition to training, project work to be done as well. Crew leader training on site specific locations using project development funds. Park patrollers and developing volunteers to help with actual trail work. Discussed speadsheet showing investment and return including new volunteer hours, and skill development to increase the value of the volunteer time. Accomplishes both leveraging funding and showing the benefits of training. Business model helps build interest in what is not a very exciting concept.

Christopher advises deleting references to RTP funding, even though states have been using RTP education funds in the past. There are multiple funding possibilities, state and federal grants, corporate, and donations. Include resources for identifying potential partners, training locations, communities.

Steve - There are economic benefits as well.

Jamie - Include outdoor ethics in all training

Kim - example of North Country Trail, which encompasses multiple states, many communities, and local organizations; and provides training under the umbrella of the trail support group with partners.

Is there any potential to develop Centers for skills development?

Idea: create a "foundation for trails training" to help people work with funding. Suggests getting an intern to work with Stuart. Programs with micro grants typically fund projects, not funding. But training can be built into project costs.

Scott can recommend to American Trails Board on this foundation as a model.

Kim - funding through a dollar on every sale of some items as bike industry does.

Steve - running small grants program in NPS. But funding training is not just a one time thing, needs to be built into the operations. Big groups like Appalachian Trail. IMBA workshops are an incredible model with corporate funding.

Mary - Tread lightly is generally funded by states' RTP funds. We need to help general public know about RTP and the importance of funding trails and related benefits like training.

Mary - Trails 101 course could be housed in Conservation USA. Nathan said that when BLM decided it wouldn't host the course anymore, FWS training center offered to take it over. Which worked well for two years but then got shifted to another division. Course can still be put on at FWS training center annually.

Steve: In Colorado trails are a part of a broad agenda, including conservation, invasive species, public land management, watersheds, wildlife habitat, environmental education, etc.


Next meetings:

Trailbuilders Conference in Asheville, NC in March.
Washington DC in June : there may be actual proposals on transportation authorization by then
Need to develop stronger agendas to attract people to meetings
George Washington Univ auditorium - healthy people, healthy places. See what is actually incorporated in Health and Human Services programs and objectives through 2020. Opportunities for trails?
Report from Americas Great Outdoors listening sessions. Received over 200,000 public comments. Reviewing them to address AGO vision as well as current budget reality.
May have started out as a protection orientation and evolved more into outdoor recreation. Access is the big theme-- both designated access as well as physically getting to public lands.


Meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m.

Notes submitted by Stuart Macdonald

See the list of NTTP Steering Committee members and a comprehensive list of agencies and organizations supporting the National Trails Training Partnership.

NTTP Home Page:
About NTTP:
Calendar of Trainings:
Resources and Library:

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